The internet isn’t particularly hospitable to debates, is it? When you try to state an opinion on social media, you quickly get a thousand screaming voices. But fret not; there are a few safe havens for intellectual debate, where logic reigns supreme.
These are some of the best debate sites on the internet, with each serving as a platform for arguments in different ways. Some enable a one-on-one debate, while others open your stance to anyone. There are even sites where you get to read a fascinating exchange between two experts on a topic. No matter which way you choose, you will expand your worldview.
1. DebateArt (Web): Challenge Anyone to a One-on-One Debate
If you’re looking to engage in a classic one-on-one debate with an opponent, DebateArt is the best place for such arguments. Any registered user can start a debate topic and issue an open challenge, which any other registered user can join.
Then you engage in four rounds of debate. Starting with the initiator, each party presents their definitions, opinions, references, and arguments in a large comment post, which the other party then counters. You can quote your opponent’s lines, add links, and use formatting to make your comment easier to read. And most of all, keep it civil and cerebral, don’t get personal or vicious with language.
All of this behavior and presentation matters for the voting. Once the debate rounds end, readers get to vote to decide who won. Points are awarded for arguments, sources, spelling and grammar, and conduct. Once the voting period ends, a winner is announced.
Readers can also participate in the debate by adding their own comments. This serves as a way to take the discussion further and bring up points not addressed by the original debaters. And you can join more discussions and debates in the active online forums. As DebateArt says, their best feature is their community.
2. r/changemyview (Web): Best Subreddit for Debates and Arguments
Given its reputation for trolls and flippant comments, who would have thought Reddit would be a safe place for thoughtful debates and discussions on the internet? But that’s exactly what the r/ChangeMyView (CMV) community has built, with a combination of rules, hands-on moderating, and voting comments up and down.
Anyone is free to post on CMV to start a discussion by making a definitive statement about your opinions or beliefs, which you’re challenging someone to counter. While defending your case is important, the idea is to go in with an open mind so that someone can possibly change your view. It’s important to state your own case clearly; otherwise it’s pretty easy for others to poke holes.
You’ll quickly see comments with reasoned arguments and logic and well-researched debates with links for further reading. When one comment changes anyone’s opinion, the opinion-changer rewards the original with a “Delta” tag and explains why that comment changed their opinion. It’s a way to find the top comments that are doing the objective of the community: to change views.
It’s best to go through the CMV Wiki and rules before you start posting, as there are some excellent guidelines on how to avoid stating positions in a way where you are likely to lose the argument. Plus, there are some no-nos that will get your comment deleted or downvoted.
Generally speaking, it’s a hospitable environment and classifies as one of the most sociable subreddits out there.
3. Kialo (Web): Best Website for Organized Two-View Debates
Kialo is a platform made specifically to host debates between two opposing perspectives. It is full of features that let commenters and readers address different issues and topics of an argument in a tidy format.
Every debate starts with a definitive statement and is divided into Pros and Cons columns. Any registered user can add their comment to either side. Readers vote on how closely the point affects the original position, and the comment is moved up and down in rank accordingly.
Kialo has a unique branch-linking system that allows for better debates. Sometimes, a point in the Cons can be a debate against two in the Pros. So users (through moderators) can link these comments into their own branch, creating a clean chain for people to understand which points are arguments against each other.
Every Pro or Con point can have further comments by users for expansions by readers on the topic. You can also see all recent activities on the right. Feel free to browse through featured or popular topics on Kialo or create your own after registering.
4. Debate Island (Web): Make Debate Clubs and Host Formal or Informal Debates
Sites like ChangeMyView and Kialo offer an informal debating format with a few classical debate formats and rules. Debate Island lets anyone host debates in the classical structure, but also leaves room for free-wheeling arguments.
Debates have a standard format depending on which type you choose, and you can attach polls to each topic you create. In general, you’ll find three types of debates:
- Casual: The “Casual” and “Persuade Me” debate types are for those who want to state a premise and then argue about it, or even get their opinion changed about it. It’s open-ended and more similar to ChangeMyView.
- Formalish: The “Formalish” debate lets you argue online with an unlimited amount of users. This happens over 1-3 timed rounds, which you set when creating the debate. This is followed by a 24-hour voting period, after which a winner is announced.
- Formal: The “Traditional” debate and the “Lincoln-Douglas” debate adhere to set rules and standards of these formal debating styles. Both of these are one-on-one debates, with a voting period afterward.
Debate Island encourages users to make debate clubs, which can even be used for classrooms. The website also has a prediction AI called Debra, which analyzes comments for arguments, sources, grammar, and conduct, and then determines which comment is likely to win the debate.
5. ProCon (Web): Britannica’s Debate Platform for Researched Arguments
ProCon is a different type of debate platform, where researchers and certified authors present a debate with reasoned arguments on both sides. It’s a non-profit organization run by Britannica (the company behind Encyclopedia Britannica), promising to be non-partisan, reliable, and educational.
As the name suggests, each debate on ProCon is presented in two columns of pros and cons. Every point is researched and comes with citations for any references it makes, such as legal rulings, research papers, and news articles. Each point has a premise stated clearly in one sentence at the beginning and then expanded upon further.
The format makes it easy to read and understand. ProCon also states its design style wants to create “beneficial confusion” that causes readers to struggle with well-presented opposition positions, which makes them rethink their notions and maybe find out that you’re wrong.
And just because the average netizen can’t present their own arguments doesn’t mean you can’t participate in the ProCon process. ProCon invites readers to send questions and topics for future debates. And, of course, you can always join the comments section under any debate to present your thoughts and debate with others.
Don’t Take Debates Personally
All the aforementioned sites encourage good behavior and conduct from debaters. A good rule of thumb to ensure you stay civil is not to take any argument personally and not to say anything about another person either. If you stick to the topic and the words, rather than who is saying them or trying to ascertain their meaning, you will make better arguments and win debates.
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